First-ever ArtPrize winner returns for ArtPrize 10 as a Grand Juror

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - ArtPrize is well underway with over 120,000 votes being cast as of Tuesday evening. The artist who won the first ArtPrize competition has returned to West Michigan, not to enter another piece of art in the event, but to judge and ultimately determine this year's winner.

Life after ArtPrize for Ran Ortner is probably what many of you think it turned out to be. Gaining the money to continue to produce award-winning art, being well-known across the world in the art community, and having his piece go down in Grand Rapids and ArtPrize history. One thing that may surprise you though is of the $250,000 in prize money that Ran won, by the end of the 2010, it was all gone.

"I was living illegally in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in my space where I was making art and I thought I could stay here and be reasonable or I can use this for a down payment on real estate to do something. In thinking along these lines, my whole life has been all in and this conservative approach, this reasonable approach really wasn’t me. There was a raw space and I decided to pick up the lease on that and I spent all of my ArtPrize money just renovating that space and it actually ended up being a really extraordinary decision." said Ran when asked about what he did with his winnings.

Ran hasn't been able to visit city much since winning the prize in 2009, so this is most certainly a special occasion for him. ArtPrize is now world-renowned in the art community and he has a tough task ahead of him in the next two weeks.

His prize-winning piece, "Open Water no.24" is on display above the bar at the Reserve Wine and Food if you would like to see it.

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